Archive for the ‘Lectionary’ Category

November 8th

November 9, 2009

At the end of the first and second readings of the Mass, the congregation responds to the Word of God by saying: “Thanks be to God.”  That can seem pretty strange, if we think about some of the readings that we hear proclaimed, particularly from the Old Testament.  (e.g. Think of the account of David and Bathsheba.)  If we have just heard a reading that has a tragic ending, one might wonder why we are thanking God for something tragic.

The reason that we thank God at the end of the reading, is not necessarily because of what we have just heard, but because through the Scriptures, God continues to speak to us.  We thank God because He has just spoken to us through His Word.

After the second reading, we stand for the proclamation of the Gospel.  There are several things that we do during the proclamation of the Gospel to show the importance and the reverence that we have toward the Gospel.  We all stand out of respect for the words and teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  We all sing the “Alleluia” before the Gospel is proclaimed.  The word “Alleluia” literally means: “praise the Lord”; it is a hymn praising God for revealing Himself to us through the Gospel.

While the Alleluia is being sung, the priest bows to the altar and says a short prayer, by which he asks God to purify his heart and his lips that he may worthily proclaim the Gospel.  If the person proclaiming the Gospel is a deacon, the deacon asks the priest for a blessing.  The priest blesses the deacon, and prays that God will purify the deacon’s heart and lips that the Gospel may worthily be proclaimed.  The prayers that the Church puts on the lips of her ministers at the time of the Gospel proclamation remind us of how holy the Gospel is and how important it is that the minister strive to be holy, that he may worthily proclaim it.

The Gospel reading is further elevated from the other readings by the fact that it is read from a separate book which is decorated with gold.  The Gospel book is also carried aloft in procession both at the beginning of the Mass as well as right before the Gospel is read to show its importance.

There are several ways that the priest (or deacon) shows reverence toward the book of the Gospels right before he proclaims it.  The book may be reverenced with incense (on special occasions); the priest signs the book with a cross before he reads; once the Gospel has been proclaimed, the priest reverences the Gospel book with a kiss.  As he kisses the book, he says: “By the Words of the Gospel may my sins be wiped away.”

A final way that the Gospel is marked off from the other readings is that there is a special response made by the congregation at the conclusion of the Gospel: “Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.”

God bless,

Father White

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November 1st

October 29, 2009

Immediately following the opening prayer, or collect, the congregation is seated in order to listen to the Word of God.  This part of the Mass is known as the “Liturgy of the Word”.

On Sundays, there are always three readings from Scripture and a Responsorial Psalm.  The first reading is usually taken from the Old Testament.  The Easter Season is the exception to that rule.  During the Easter Season, the first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles.  In the book of Acts, we hear about what the Christian community did during the days following the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord, and so it makes sense that we hear these accounts read during the time immediately following Easter, when we celebrate the Resurrection.

Following the first reading, we have a Responsorial Psalm.  The Psalms are prayers that were written with the intention that they would be sung.  Singing the Psalms is a major part of Jewish worship, and we continue to use them.  The Psalms are prayers that were inspired by God.  When we pray the Psalms, we worship God with the very words that He gave to us.  We also know that Jesus prayed the Psalms, and so we also follow the example of Our Lord when we pray them.

The second reading is always taken from one of the Epistles (Letters) of one of the Apostles.  The Epistles are letters that are usually addressed to one of the early Christian communities, although some of them are addressed to a particular person.  (e.g. the Letter to Timothy)  These letters tend to offer practical advice.  The letters often address a particular issue going on within the community to which it is written, but we know that the Holy Spirit inspired the letter, and therefore we can still gain insight and greatly profit from following the instructions found in them.

The proclamation of the Gospel is the high point of the liturgy of the Word.  We give special respect and honor to the Gospel because the Gospels record the life, death, and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

God bless,

Father White

August 9th

August 25, 2009

Often, in the cycle of readings that we have in our Lectionary, we get to hear a particular passage of Scripture over the course of a few weeks.  This week’s Gospel Reading, for example, picks up where the previous two week’s left off.

Two weeks ago, we heard about the multiplication of the loaves and fish; last week we heard the beginning of the “Bread of Life” discourse.  This discourse of Our Lord is continued in this week’s as well as in next week’s Gospel.  Then we will hear the conclusion of it in two weeks.  Over the course of five weeks we will have heard the entire sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel.

One of the charges that Protestants often level against Catholics is that we don’t read the Bible.  Not only do we read the Bible, we tend to use more Scripture in our Liturgy than most Protestants do in their services.

Our Lectionary has a very wide selection of Sacred Scripture.  With the three-year cycle of Sunday readings, by attending Mass every Sunday for three years you will have heard almost all of the New Testament as well as many of the significant parts of the Old Testament (not to mention a lot of readings from the many Epistles of the New Testament).

Besides the Readings from Sacred Scripture, many of the prayers of the Mass are Scriptural themselves.  The Words of Consecration are the words that Jesus said over the bread and the wine at the Last Supper.  The Our Father is the prayer that Our Lord taught His disciples to pray.  The prayer that the priest prays before Communion time, as he holds up the Host (“This is the Lamb of God”) should call to our minds Saint John the Baptist as he pointed to Jesus on the bank of the Jordan and proclaimed that Jesus is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world.

The idea that Catholics don’t use Scripture is a false notion that many Protestants have.  It is important that we Catholics know Scripture so that we can engage Protestants in intelligent dialogue.  If they quote Scripture and Catholics just shrug with a glazed-over look in their eyes, they will think that they are correct in their assumptions.  Catholics are exposed to the Scripture at every Mass, but we have to make the effort to better understand and appreciate it.  There are many opportunities here at OLGC to study the Bible.  If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me.

God bless,

Father White